James Ford Rhodes (18481927). History of the Civil War, 18611865 1917.
would be utter ruination. The matter is now undergoing consultation. Weak-kneed fools are in the movement for a new candidate to supplant the Tycoon. Everything is darkness and doubt and discouragement.1 Lincoln himself thought it exceedingly probable that he would not be reëlected,2 but he signified no intention of withdrawing and intimated that he would modify his policy in but one direction. He would undoubtedly have made peace on the basis of reunion, saying nothing about slavery, for he was convinced that slavery could never exist in the same form as before the War and that gradual emancipation was certain.3
Hay, on a visit to the West, had found some cheer, and in a private letter to Nicolay from Illinois set down the following accurate estimate of public sentiment in that region: There is throughout the country, I mean the rural districts, a good healthy Union feeling and an intention to succeed in the military and the political contests; but everywhere in the towns the copperheads4 are exultant and our own people either growling and despondent or sneakingly apologetic.5
Nicolay showed penetration when he wrote, Our men see giants in the airy and unsubstantial shadows of the opposition and are about to surrender without a fight.6 As the Democrats had nominated no candidate there was in fact nothing to contend against. We are waiting with the greatest interest, Hay wrote, for the hatching of the big peace snake at Chicago.7 Hay referred to the approaching Democratic convention which, when it met,8 nominated McClellan for President and adopted a resolution